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Beef Panang Curry

Beef Panang Curry

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The more chiles you use, the closer you’ll come to the tear-inducing flavor of the dish as it’s served at Thai-Khun.


Panang curry paste

  • 6–12 dried bird chiles (¼–½ oz.)
  • 6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ounces galangal, coarsely chopped
  • Peel and pith of 1 lime, finely chopped
  • ½ lemongrass stalk, tough outer layer removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon crushed coriander seeds
  • 1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Thai shrimp paste in bean oil
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

Beef curry

  • 2 pounds chuck flap, very thinly sliced against the grain
  • 4 serrano chiles, thinly sliced, seeded if desired
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 13.5-oz. cans unsweetened coconut milk
  • ¼ cup fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • Steamed jasmine rice and Thai basil sprigs (for serving)

Ingredient info:

  • Shrimp paste can be found at Asian markets and online.

Recipe Preparation

Panang curry paste

  • Process chiles, garlic, galangal, lime peel, lemongrass, and coriander seeds in a food processor until finely ground. Add onion, shrimp paste, pepper, and salt and process until a smooth paste forms. Set aside ⅔ cup; reserve remaining curry paste for another use.

  • DO AHEAD: Curry paste can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill, or freeze up to 1 month.

Beef curry

  • Season beef with salt. Heat oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat and cook curry paste, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Working in batches if needed, add beef and cook, tossing constantly to separate slices, until browned, about 5 minutes.

  • Add chiles, kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce, cumin, and 1½ cups water to wok. Bring to a simmer; season with salt. Cook, skimming surface occasionally and adding water as needed to keep beef submerged, until beef is tender, 1½–2 hours.

  • Serve beef over rice with a bit of braising liquid spooned over and topped with basil and egg, if using.

Recipe by Thai Changthong, Thai-Kun, Austin, TX,

Nutritional Content

Calories (kcal) 1080 Fat (g) 83 Saturated Fat (g) 46 Cholesterol (mg) 150 Carbohydrates (g) 36 Dietary Fiber (g) 4 Total Sugars (g) 27 Protein (g) 55 Sodium (mg) 2280Reviews Section

Panang Curry with Beef Recipe (Kaeng Phanaeng Neua)

Panang curry takes it name from the city island off the West coast of peninsular Malaysia, Penang, or Pulau Pinang in Malay. This type of curry is richer, sweeter, and creamier than the more herbal Thai red curry or green curry, making it very popular with westerners.

Peanuts, a unique ingredient in this recipe, are found in only one other Thai curry, Masamam Beef is the most famous type of Panang curry but chicken, pork, fish or even liver can also be delicious (though with adjustments to the curry paste). Vegetables are not usually added to Panang curry, but tiny bitter green eggplants could be a possibility. This is a drier type of curry more like its Indian cousins, with just enough sauce to cover the meat.

If you are pressed for time try using a ready made curry paste like Nittaya brand or see an authentic Thai panang curry paste recipe. To save even more time double up the recipe since curries freeze very well.

Recipe Summary

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons Panang-style red curry paste
  • 1 pound beef top sirloin, thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup coconut milk, or as needed
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • ½ tablespoon fish sauce
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped Thai basil

Turn on a multi-functional pressure cooker (such as Instant Pot®) and select Saute function. Add oil and curry paste to the hot pot cook and stir for 1 minute. Add sirloin strips and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in coconut milk. Cancel Saute mode. Close and lock the lid.

Select high pressure according to manufacturer's instructions set timer for 5 minutes. Allow 10 to 15 minutes for pressure to build.

Release pressure using the natural-release method according to manufacturer's instructions, for 10 minutes. Release remaining pressure carefully using the quick-release method according to manufacturer's instructions, about 5 minutes.

Unlock and remove the lid. Select Saute function. Mix in onion, bell peppers, peanut butter, coconut sugar, and fish sauce. Simmer until flavors are well combined, about 5 minutes. Taste and add more coconut milk if curry is too spicy. Sprinkle with Thai basil before serving.

Easy Beef Panang Curry

You can now make an amazing Beef Panang Curry at home in less time it takes to make white rice. Beef Panang Curry must be rich, moderately spicy and creamy with lots of sauce, but not so much that is turns into a soup. The beef should be tender and soft. I also like some fresh vegetables with crunch in the sauce. The addition of lots of fresh Thai basil is crucial for the authentic flavor. Making Beef Panang Curry at home allows you to control the level of spiciness and sauce-to-protein ratio.

What is the difference between Red Curry and Panang Curry? Well, as it turns out, not much. Panang is a bit more mild and sweet with a peanut component either crushed peanuts on top or ground peanuts in the sauce. This recipe uses Red Curry Paste with the addition of a tablespoon of sugar and peanut butter. As a side note – Green Curry uses green chilis and lots of fresh green herbs like kaffir leaf, basil and cilantro. Yellow Curry uses tumeric to achieve its rich golden color. See the color in this wonderful Yellow Curry with Chicken and Potatoes.

Using the right ingredients is key. America’s Test Kitchen rated Aroy-D as the best tasting brand for Coconut Milk. My favorite Red Curry Paste, Maesri, comes in small 4-ounce cans. Start with 1-2 tablespoons of red curry paste and add more to get your preferred level of spiciness.

If you can find fresh Thai basil, please use it! Otherwise fresh Italian basil works too. Fresh Kaffir Lime leaves can be found in Asian markets or buy dried Kaffir Lime Leaves online at Amazon. Lemon or lime leaves would be a possible substitute.

You will need a good cast iron to sear the steak, and a non-skillet to make the creamy, spicy coconut curry sauce. Use a top sirloin, flank or even rib eye steak for the beef. Sear it in a hot cast iron pan until its rare. You can also substitute chicken breast for the beef.

One important tip is cut the rare steak very thin. It will continue cooking in the Panang Curry sauce, and you want the thin slices to stay soft, not chewy.

The Red Curry Paste is “stir fried” and then blended with the coconut milk and peanut butter until smooth and creamy. Add the Thai red chilis, basil, carrots, red bell pepper, snap peas and sliced beef.

Mix to coat and gently simmer 10 minutes until you get a thick, creamy, delicious sauce.

Serve immediately with extra-long grain white rice. My favorite brand is Royal Chef’s Secret Extra-Long Grain Basmati Rice. You can buy a 10-pound bag on Amazon if you can’t find a smaller quantity in your local grocer. Notice the beautiful individual long grains of rice in the photo!

The curry paste to use

While there are obviously a lot of different ingredients to make the Panang curry paste from scratch, you can also use premade Panang paste from the grocery store.

Premade curry paste

If you don’t have time or resources to find the ingredients, you can easily find premade Panang curry at your local Asian grocery store. A popular brand is Aroy-D – Panang Curry Paste.

Homemade panang curry paste

I like to make the paste from scratch when I have time so I can customize different flavor profiles. To make the paste, I use a traditional mortar and pestle to make sure all the ingredients are fully combined. I’ve previously used a food processor and this works too, you may have to scrape the sides down and process a dozen times to get a thick paste consistency.

This recipe makes two separate servings for Panang paste so you can have some for a future date and save time!

Beef Panang Curry

I fell in love with this traditional Southern Thai curry at “Night + Market Sahm” in Venice, California where they serve the thick, gravy-like curry panang with flakey, crispy fresh roti and sticky rice.

Pandang curry is characterized by balanced sweet and savory flavors with nutty undertones and a bright citrusy finish. In traditional versions of panang curry, the beef is cooked separately as to not sully the flavors of the spice paste, but I like the slight beef flavor, not to mention the ease of cooking the beef in the sauce.

Many also use a thin cut of beef, but I prefer to use cubes of beef that slowly break down and become fork-tender in the curry. My goal is to create an easy, one-pot curry with a deep flavor profile that can be easily made for a weeknight dinner and enjoyed after a little over an hour of hands-off cooking.

I tried two separate versions with both homemade curry and store-bought and in this recipe the winner was the store-bought – it was a bit spicier and felt like the flavors were more cohesive.

Traditional panang curry paste isn’t tough to make, however it can be tricky to track down the typical ingredients – a combination of red pepper, lemongrass, shallots, garlic, galangal, lime leaves and shrimp paste. Look for a store-bought Thai red curry paste with these ingredients on the container for the best flavor profile. I like using Mae Ploy Red Curry Paste which can be found at Target or here.

Makrut lime leaves are frequently used in Southeast Asian cooking to add bright, citrus flavor and can be found at most Asian markets. They freeze well so I like to buy a few packages and keep them around to use as needed. If you cannot locate makrut lime leaves then a combination of half lime zest and half lemon zest works as a substitute.

How To Make Beef Panang Curry

  • Brown the beef strips in a pot on a high heat. Remove from the pot and place to one side (photo 1).
  • Add the veggies and aromatics to the pot and sauté until the onions are translucent (photo 2).
  • Add in the liquids, curry paste and peanut butter, stir to combine and bring to the boil (photo 3).
  • Return the beef to the pan and stir in the cornstarch. Simmer for 5 minutes to allow it to thicken (photo 4).

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Panang Curry

Sometimes also spelt as Panaeng Curry this is one of my favourite dishes. Actually to my mind the correct spelling of the dish should be "Panaeng" but Google thinks otherwise! It's sometimes stated that this dish originates from the Malaysian island of Penang. I don't buy that at all but it's a fight I will leave to others!

I'm cooking this with beef. I think that this is a dish that benefits from slower cooking, so although it can be cooked quickly using rump steak I prefer to use braising steak or similar. This will produce a dish where the melting texture of the slow cooked beef and the richness of the sauce is a heavenly combination! I'm garnishing it with some kaffir lime leaf and some mild red chillies. For around 500g of beef you need 1 pouch of Panang paste and 1 can of coconut milk. The pastes are complete but it is always a good idea to have a little lime juice to hand to adjust sweetness, if needed, to your personal taste at the end of cooking. You also adjust saltiness by adding a little more fish sauce or salt if required. I’m often asked about using a slow cooker for Thai curries, any recipe using coconut milk in a slow cooker has to be adapted so please read this article here first. Slow cooker curry.

Make sure you’re using the “right” type of coconut milk as it will make or break this or any other coconut based curry. Quick guide here, Coconut Milk Summary or if you would like to see the difference between different brands of coconut milk the full article is here Cooking Thai Curry with Coconut Milk . Just use half a can to start with, if it has separated in the can to a thick part at the top of the can then use the top part. You can add the remaining coconut liquid later depending on how thick you want your curry to be. The "traditional" method of heating the milk until it separates from it's oil and using it to cook the paste is not something I recommend as can be be hard to achieve consistent results with canned coconut milk.

Add the paste to the pan and heat for a minute or two until it starts to cook.

Add half the coconut milk, stir through until it starts to bubble.

Add the meat and heat while stirring.

Add the rest of the coconut milk ensuring the meat is just covered, add water if needed. Cover pan with a tight fitting lid. You can continue to cook this on the hob or transfer to the oven at 160C. If cooking on the hob use a low heat, checking and stirring from time to time to prevent it sticking, add water if need be. Cooking time will depend on the cut of meat, about 90 mins for braising steak. It should be tender, almost falling apart. If the coconut milk has released too much oil for your taste then just scoop some from the top.

Apart from serving it as a "normal" Thai curry in the top picture, this is a popular way of serving it in our house, usually while watching a football game or movie. Tastes great in a baguette or grilled sourdough bread! The origins of Panang curry suggest anyway that it was originally a very dry curry, most likely cooked as grilled meats over charcoal, so maybe this is not a too outrageous way to eat a Panang curry, tastes great and that, for me anyway, is reason enough:-) Enjoy!


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